Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What's in Your Basket?

Sunday’s message at my church was called “I Will Fight.” Our preacher spoke of David and Goliath. I knew the story. The verse I hadn’t considered before, though, was when King Saul tells David prior to his battle with Goliath, “You are not able…you are only…” Here’s the verse:

Saul replied, You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” –I Samuel 17:33

I get it. 
Several years ago, as a professor at Cincinnati Christian University, I was charged with trying to get a state approved teaching program for the school. If we got it, we would be the first school to be added to the roster of teacher educators in over 50 years in the State of Ohio. Talk about a David and Goliath story.

The academic dean of the college, Jon Weatherly, met me in our state capitol for a preconference meeting on accreditation. There were thirty or so colleges and universities represented in the meeting. We were the only ones who did not already have a state approved program. The woman leading the session distributed materials –a hefty notebook filled with the requirements to be accredited through a national organization. Meeting these requirements was our first step in obtaining state approval.

The three hour meeting was peppered with educational jargon and acronyms used in our state offices.  I would nod to Jon and assure him I knew what they were talking about. And I did. With each example they gave of a program’s “best practice,” I would turn to my dean and assure him we were “already doing that.” We were.

After the meeting, Jon headed back to the university and I checked into the hotel for the rest of the teacher education conference. I lugged the heavy book we had been given along with my luggage up to my room. I spread the materials out on the spare bed and carefully re-wrote my notes, adding details and making sure they were legible.

The conference was informative. I met professors from small colleges similar to ours and from large state universities. I attended sessions on everything from diversity to test scores. Thursday evening, I skipped the free “happy hour” and returned to my room. There I sat in the middle of the spare bed and began carefully reading the requirements for accreditation in detail.
Google Image

I wanted to cry. Supplying the evidence and writing the report for these requirements seemed overwhelming. “What was I thinking?”
I said out loud to the empty room. “I can’t do this…I’m only one person.”

I fell asleep crying and praying. The next morning I packed everything, attended the breakfast meeting and left. I drove to Indianapolis where I was to meet my mother at “Praise Gathering,” an annual event hosted by Bill and Gloria Gaither. I looked forward to the music washing over me. I needed it.

When I arrived at the convention center, the afternoon worship session was in progress. I knew where we were seated in the auditorium. I slipped through the doors and made my way around the outside perimeter of those seated on the floor level. Total silence. The speaker, Lori Salierno, moved on the circular stage as if following my every move.

I found my chair among the thousands of people in attendance. I looked up. The speaker seemed to be looking straight at me. “Have you ever felt that way?” she asked. Her Southern voice filled the room, breaking the silence hanging over it. “Have you ever felt the way that boy must’ve felt?” I was clueless. I had missed the first part of the story.

She stood there on stage, still looking my way. I nervously looked down at the program my mother had handed me. “Have you ever said to yourself, ‘I can’t do that. I’m only one person?’” My head jerked up. “That little boy must’ve felt that way. ‘I only have these loaves and fishes. I only have a small lunch. How can I help? What can I do with that?’” She went on to remind the audience that we bring what we have and God does the rest.

Loaves and fishes.

I heard that voice when I started writing Breathing on Her Own. “You can’t write a book. You’re only a teacher.”

My friend, Marie, has the start of a wonderful children’s book about forgiveness. But the Evil one whispers in her ear, “You can’t write a children’s book. You’re only a counselor.”

I may not have a best seller or a Hallmark movie type of book. That’s someone else’s lunch. Me? I offer my loaves and fishes and let God do with them what He will.

By the way, Cincinnati Christian University now has an award winning, state approved, nationally accredited teacher education program.

What’s in your basket?


  1. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. How encouraging it is to know that God is with you in the challenges He brings your way.

    And isn't it incredible to realize that He has been preparing you for just that task, in ways you never realized?

    1. So true, Laura. I like being able to apply lessons learned in other parts of my life to my newfound writing career. Otherwise, I might be tempted to listen to those nigglings of self-doubt.

  2. Wonderful encouragement for writers! What's in your basket.... what's in your hand... God wants to increase the little gifts he's given us. Good piece. Thx

  3. a very well crafted and encouraging article. It has really comforted me.

    1. That pleases me to hear, Owen. Heading over to your blog now to see what you write!


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